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15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

You love what you do, in fact you couldn’t imagine trading your life as a designer for anything else. But sometimes the frustration sets in because staying productive as a designer is tough.

Russian based designer Yevgeny Yermakov had the same problem and to combat it he’s been asking designers a set of five simple questions about their work habits and creative challenges, published on his website 5 Questions for 100 Designers. I’ve distilled the very best advice from the interview series here, so today I’m sharing 15 easy ways to stay productive used by 15 designers. Introduce these tactics to your day and you’re sure to see massive results.

1. Make a List

Make a to do list every single day and refer to it often. It will keep you on track and working in a productive way throughout your day. By making a list you will stop wasting time on deciding what to do next every few hours because it’s already set in your list.

2. Always Carry a Notebook

You never know when inspiration will strike, so always carry a notebook to ensure you are ready to record ideas and designs on the go. As a designer you depend on good ideas and it would be a shame if you forgot one because you had nothing to write it down when it came to you.

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3. Exercise to Clear Your Mind

When you’re sitting in front of a screen all day, you’re not getting the exercise your body needs. Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to refresh your mind and stay productive.

4. Use a Timer & Set It Hourly

When you’re working, set a timer on your phone or clock and have it count down hourly. Seeing the time ticking by will keep you on track when distractions are tempting you, keeping you productive all day long.

5. Finish What You Start

Every time you jump to a new task, you waste valuable time and energy by switching your thought patterns and focus. Finish what you start before you begin something new to stay productive.

6. Listen to Music While You Design

Music can have an incredible impact on the way you work. Find music that keeps you working at a steady pace, the genre will be different for everyone so try out different styles to see what works for you.

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7. Break Up Screen Time

If you’re a designer it’s likely that a lot of your work is computer based. Even so, try to break up your day with less computer heavy activities (even if it just means a 15 minute break away from the screen). Try paper based sketching or flicking through books for inspiration.

8. Find Your Ideal Time to Work

Everyone’s ideal time to work is different. If you’re a morning person, capitalise on that by rising early. If you’re more of a night owl, then embrace it. Work with your natural rhythms, not against them, to stay productive.

9. Get Out of the House Every Single Day

Being cooped up at home isn’t good for productivity. You’ll end up feeling restless and unproductive if you spend too much time each day in the same room of your house. Get outside and embrace the real world.

10. Take a Break in Nature

Even better than just getting out of the house is taking a break in nature. It could be as simple as a walk to a local park, or some time sitting amongst the trees in your own garden. You’ll return to your work refreshed and productive.

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11. Give Yourself Real Deadlines

It’s easy to give yourself the benefit of time, especially when you’re working for yourself, but deadlines are powerful. Set a deadline then work towards meeting it. You might surprise yourself.

12. Create a Checklist

Make a list of things you need to check off to master a project you work on e.g. font style, fabrication or branding. Having a checklist will streamline the process and ensure you maintain a consistent quality in your work.

13. Take Care of You

Take time out for the things in your life that really matter. Make time for family, friends, your health and well-being. These are the things that really matter, and without them your work means little else.

14. Tap Into The Power of Technology

Apps like Evernote, Clear, iCal, Sparrow and Text Expander can help you get organized and keep you on track. Harness it and use it to your advantage.

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15. Keep Up The Momentum

Do something every single day to get closer to your goal. Momentum breeds momentum. Once you start you’ll keep gathering pace and your productivity will soar. You will be surprised by how much you have achieved at the end of the year.

Featured photo credit: My Decorative via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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